Her farm will be disinfected several times before she can resume her business
again, at least six months from now. She does not know how she will survive until
Khun Malee's farm is one of 400 chicken farms in this district. All of the
district's two million chickens are being destroyed. Similar culls are under
way in dozens of other districts where the disease has been found.
On the edge of her land, near the road, the sacks of chickens are thrown
into a newly dug pit, about seven meters in diameter.
The sacks are covered with lime and disinfectant. Then a powerful backhoe
covers the sacks with dirt.
The workers, their job finished here, move on to the next farm.
(VOA photo - S. Bobb)
Dr. Santi Prasithphol is the district's sole government veterinarian. Sitting
in a large, busy room at district headquarters, he oversees the extermination
and tries to explain to farmers why the government is destroying their livelihoods.
"Some farm owners disagree at the beginning," he said. "But after we explain
the dangers of the outbreak to them and after the prime minister came to visit
and explained, they all understand."
Nevertheless, the Thai news media report that some farmers are angry, and
accuse the government of hiding the outbreak to protect exports. The government
denies the charge.
The epidemic has devastated Thailand's $3 billion a year poultry industry.
But the government fears an even greater crisis, which could occur if the virus
changes and begins to spread from human to human.
As a result, the Thai government is moving as quickly as possible to contain
the epidemic, though it can do little right now for people like Khun Malee,
who have lost everything.